Hendry County cleared in monkey farm lawsuit

LABELLE, Fla. Hendry County didn’t violate the Sunshine Law when it approved controversial monkey breeding facilities, the Florida Second District Court of Appeal ruled.

No further appeals are possible in the case brought by three plaintiffs alleging the county illegally approved the facilities in areas zoned for agricultural use, county officials said in a press release Wednesday.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, in response to an earlier court ruling in the case, said the court ruled the approval wasn’t illegal based on the precedent of other facilities approved in the county in the early 2000s.

MORE: Monkey farm worker: ‘I just couldn’t live with myself if I was going to be doing that’

But the fund contended all the approvals violated Florida’s Sunshine Law, which requires state and local government bodies to hold public hearings and provide public notice for all steps in a policy-making process.

Plaintiffs William Stephens, Carol Grey and Keely Cinkota filed the suit in 2014. The county will seek to recover court costs from them.

Another lawsuit was filed earlier this year against Primate Products Inc. and two related companies that operate one of the facilities, claiming it poses a health risk.

Hendry County cleared the facilities of wrongdoing in 2015 after investigating claims they conducted illegal scientific research on the monkeys.

MORE: More violations found at Hendry Co. monkey farm